My youngest started pre-school last week. In less than 2 months, he will turn 3. As of a few weeks ago, he sleeps in a big-boy bed and he wears big-boy undies.
All of these recent and life-changing events mean that my days of legitimately calling my little guy a toddler are coming to an end.
Now, mind you, we still have years of tantrums left to live through (or so my oldest leads me to believe). And simply turning 3 and going to school and peeing in the potty does not a big kid make (despite how fervently said toddler tries to tell you otherwise). But I can feel the door closing on this magical and maniacal phase of my life.
When my firstborn became a toddler, I just about lost my mind. The tantrums and screamed needs and the flat-out intensity of this particular period shocked me into fight or flight and I came this close to flying.
But now, here at the end, a good 5 years later, I find myself mourning the passing of this very particular and very challenging, but ultimately rewarding stage. Yes indeed, tantrums are forever, but some things most definitely are not. And, oh, you sweet toddler specialties, I really will miss you.
If a toddler hasn’t hugged you, then I dare say you have never truly been hugged. With all of that stubborn baby fat nestled around just the right places, hugging a toddler is perhaps the sweetest, most comforting thing that you can do at the end of a long day. Or the beginning of a long day. Or at any moment in between.
Love of the truest kind
Yes, the clinging can get old. Yes, carrying him everywhere because he wants to be close can be exhausting. And yes, I’ve begun to wish that he’d learn to call someone else besides me, “Mommy!” all day long. But toddler love is the truest love. It is love you can not only feel but also see. Toddlers love with a fierceness that literally floats in the air. And I really like when love floats.
A fit on my hip
No, I don’t always want him there. But when we’re in a crowded place? Or when we need to go someplace more quickly than his little legs will take us? Or when I really just want to feel the connection that can only be felt when a person clasps their hands around your neck and rests their head on your shoulder? Oh I love carrying my little boy.
Frequent (and freakin’ adorable) mispronunciations
Just last week, he asked to “waffle” something in my ear. ‘Nuff said. I will miss waffles in my ear.
Dripping in love
He likes my dress. And my necklace. He loves my earrings. He says “please” and “thank you” more genuinely than any other human on the planet because he knows it makes me smile. “Mommy” leaves his lips dripping in love, and, just in case I don’t notice, he follows it up with a sincere, “I love you.” Toddler love covers you in sweetness.
Truth, nothing but the truth
Toddlers, with a few exceptions, can’t lie. The pathways in their brains haven’t connected in that way yet. So when you ask a question, you get the complete truth and you get it quickly. You know what’s up, you know where you stand, and you don’t have to stay awake at night wondering how to get to the bottom of things. (Instead you stay awake at night wondering how to get them to stay in bed. Equally frustrating but a problem with a far shorter timeline.)
Everything is new (and sometimes scary and scream-worthy) but always new
He shrieks when we pass a train on the way home from school. He goes bonkers at the county fair. We’ve been going to the same fair every year of his little life, but every year it is brand new to him. Wearing long sleeves in the fall and breaking out flip flops in the summer feel like the first time every year. In fact, every little piece of life is a stunning revelation for him. It is eye opening when you watch the first leaf change, the first snowflake fall, and the first flower of spring bloom, as if you’ve never seen it happen before. There is so much wonder that only toddlers can show you.
These beautiful toddler qualities won’t vanish overnight. He may very well wake up on his third birthday still trying to waffle in my ear and hugging me fiercely. But, piece-by-piece, they will fade. Experience tells me that the baby fat will melt into long lean legs. The intensity will mellow out into a love that is sustainable for us both. And some year, probably next year, he’ll remember the county fair. And I’ll be left with only the sweet memories of how truly wonderful toddlerhood could be.
And the tantrums, of course. Always the tantrums.
This article was originally published on